"We ha'e a wee prooblem Lizzie."February 20 2012 at 6:10 PM
|Elsabeth Rose Moffat |
Response to As the two youngsters listened, ...
Lizzie had been bent at the waist, hands on knees, puffing and panting from the long run across the pasture. She straightened to look at him as her brother started to speak. "Ye ken we are nae supposed tae be here wi'oot Faither an' Mither, oor Ooncle Will or Auntie Lara. I am nae sure what tae dae th' noo." Nodding agreement, she stood deep in thought for a few moments.
It was so like Seanie to go off with things half-thought. He just acted, without a care for the how of things. Not how to make something work, or how to deal with possible problems, or what to do if something went wrong. Now something was so.
If they were seen by anyone word would get back to their parents. They would be in huge trouble. She looked at Seanie reflectively, hearing Ainsley's and Lara's and indeed her mother's voices in her head. (He is filthy! He needs a bath and clean claething tae be seen!) Suddenly it occurred to her to wonder what she looked like. Certainly she did not have the pine sap smutched over her clothing that he did. But looking at her hands she found that they were turning black as the air darkened the sticky stuff into a deep brown color, just as the smears on Seanie's hands and face were. They both needed a bath!
A thoughtful girl, her mind raced on. And clean clothing. They needed that, too. And what were they to eat? It was nearly time for the evening meal now, and the stringent exercise had provided her with a sharp sense of hunger. Seanie must be nearly starved, her quick mind told her, for he always ate more than she did. And where were they to get milk? Or even water? How were they to live? Despair welled up in her. (Oh, why did I let him lead me awa' fra' the hoose?) she cried silently.
Yet that active imagination of hers was also beginning to tackle the problems. Lara and Ainsley always said to take one thing at a time, and to break large things into small. What did they need first? To be clean, her orderly mind decided. How? The burbling of the brook at the edge of the pasture provided a clue. Grabbing her bother's hand, she whispered fiercely, "Coome oon!"
She nearly yanked him toward the end of the building closest to her destination. There was a little woods nearby, one that curved around the edge of the pasture and toward the brook. There the two features met, there was a shielded glen where a little pool was deep enough to sit and wash. Lara would take them there on hot days to splash in the water for fun. The sandy bottom of the pool would provide clean grains to scrub themselves. They could wash their clothing first, and hang it to dry on bushes while they washed themselves and each other. Clean and dressed, at least they could present themselves honorably. Sensing that she had a plan, Seanie went along without complaint. It was not until they arrived and Lizzie began to shed her own attire that he balked.
"Lizzie! The Priest will ha'e a conniption! Ye ken we cannae wash taegither, and caertain nae each ither! Ye are a girl!" he pronounced, as if that explained everything.
Lizzie put her hands on her hips, and defiance sparked in her eyes. Her voice nearly matched that of Ainsley as she spoke, so closely did she model her thoughts and response on their new mother. "Sean Robert! We muist be clean. Dae ye ken anither wa' tae get oorsel'es sae?" He shook his head miserably. "Then turn aboot and shuck thysel' oot of thy grooby things! And dinnae think I will wash them for thee!" She spun to face away from him and continued to undress, discovering that her dress and her shift both had some sap on them that had left darkening streaks. Irked, she whispered her thoughts to herself as she searched out a large stone on which to lay the fabric while she scrubbed at it with her fingers, not caring if Seanie overheard.
"Thinks himsel' tiu griuwen oop tae bathe wi' the likes of a girl, doose he? An' aw' the time we spent at Ooncle Will and Auntie Lara's, wha' dis he think it wis tha' sat in the toob wi' him each nicht befaere we got intae oor nichtshifts?" She shook her head. "And la! Wha' wis it tha' birthet him? And wha' is Auntie Lara, she tha' uset tae scroob oot his earen? And wha' is Brighde, she wha' scroobet them oot t'noo? Dis he think a wee laddie like him ne'er is seen by a girl in a toob? Wi'oot a girl how wuid a boy e'er learn tae keep himsel' clean?"
Remembering what she had learned of such things from Lara, she strode through the shallow water of the pool to the higher bank, finding there a weed whose roots would provide a slippery sap substance that could be used as a substitute for soap. Returning, she broke the largest root in half and used it to begin to scrub her garments, finally succeeding in getting the sticky sap out of the fabric. Eventually she noticed that her brother was standing there starkers, with his hand out. Normally, she would have shared the soaproot, but as indignant as she felt she was more than a bit put out with him. Thus, she regarded him with an acerbic air and then pointed. "I will need this for my skin and hair," she asserted. "Gae and get thy ain."